Press release: C4M backs Culture Sec’s call for greater viewpoint diversity at BBC
The Coalition for Marriage (C4M) has backed UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s call for “genuine diversity of thought and experience” at the BBC and criticised the broadcaster for ignoring or denigrating the views of millions of license fee payers who disagree with same-sex marriage.
Speaking at a media and telecoms conference yesterday Dowden, who recently succeeded Nicky Morgan, asked “does the BBC truly reflect all of our nation and is it close to the British people?”
He told delegates: “The BBC needs to be closer to, and understand the perspectives of, the whole of the United Kingdom and avoid providing a narrow urban outlook.
“By this, I don’t just mean getting authentic and diverse voices on and off the screen – although of course this is important. But also making sure there is genuine diversity of thought and experience. And this matters, because if you don’t have that, you miss what’s important to people.”
The Culture Secretary also questioned whether the BBC was doing enough to ensure impartiality in its output:
“I’m sure you’ve all seen recent Ofcom research that shows the perception of news impartiality is currently lower for some public service broadcasting channels than commercial channels such as Sky and CNN. Ultimately, if people don’t perceive impartiality, then they won’t believe what they see and what they read and they’ll feel it is not relevant to them.”
Colin Hart, Chairman of C4M, commented:
“Since this campaign began we’ve been dismayed by the lack of viewpoint diversity at the BBC when it comes to traditional beliefs about marriage and the family.
“The BBC must take action to better serve the nation it represents or risk alienating huge swathes of the population who have traditional beliefs.” Colin Hart
“As a public broadcaster, funded by the licence fee, the BBC should do all it can to represent the people who pay for it. This means truly reflecting the diversity of views that exists amongst the British public about marriage, not just the views of metropolitan elites.
“The Culture Secretary described the BBC as having a ‘narrow urban outlook’ and questioned its impartiality. We second this. The BBC must take action to better serve the nation it represents or risk alienating huge swathes of the population who have traditional beliefs.”
The Culture Secretary’s comments come as a new study by pro-gay marriage group the Ozanne Foundation shows that almost a quarter of the UK population hold to traditional beliefs about marriage.
The YouGov survey of more than 5,000 Brits, carried out in February this year, shows that 24% of people think gay marriage is wrong, and 16% of people don’t know.
Mr Hart continued:
“Time and time again we see socially conservative beliefs screened out or openly disparaged by the BBC. People who disagree with gay marriage are made out to be dinosaurs and bigots. Yet a poll by the Ozanne Foundation last month found that 1 in 4 Brits disagree with gay marriage, and more than 1 in 10 say they don’t know what they think about it.
“Whether the BBC likes it or not, millions of Brits hold traditional views about marriage and their beliefs are worthy of respect. They should not be made to feel invisible or unwelcome by the nation’s main broadcaster. It’s time for the BBC to reflect the population it serves and to stop ignoring or denigrating socially conservative values.”